NIU softball to participate in SIUC tournament

By Katelyn Connery

The softball team (5-5) will participate in the Southern Illinois tournament in Carbondale this weekend.

This tournament will include three games against in-state rival teams Western Illinois University and Southern Illinois University, along with Butler University.

NIU’s first game will be this Saturday against the Western Illinois Bulldogs. The Bulldogs have started off their season (2-5) and are led by top players sophomore outfielder Sammy Marshall and junior utility fielder Briana Williams.

Marshall has a batting average of .462 in 26 at bats with six runs and 12 hits. She is a three-time summit league player of the week.

Following in her footsteps is Williams. She has a batting average of .333 in 21 at bats with five runs and six hits.

Williams appeared in all 51 games in the outfield last season and ranks eighth in the Western Illinois record book with 19 stolen bases in a season.

NIU is excited to take on rival team WIU, and head coach Christina Sutcliffe is determined for her team to become the best in Illinois.

“We said in the beginning of the year that we wanted to become the best team in Illinois, so we will keep this in mind as well as we are playing Western Illinois,” Suttcliffe said.

Sutcliffe plans on becoming the best as the team continues to learn to play together.

“We will be continue on improving our communication skills on the field and improve offensively by getting more hits,” she said.

NIU is also looking forward to playing Southern Illinois University in the tournament after falling to them in the fall season.

“We have something to prove with Southern Illinois,” Suttcliffe said. “We didn’t really have a great showing with them in the fall and I know that is on the girls minds.”

But even with both these rivals in mind, Sutcliffe knows the Huskies must keep their focus.

“We try to not worry about who we are not playing and play the best that we can,” Sutcliffe said.

Senior infielder Amanda Sheppard believes keeping a good attitude for this week’s tournament will help the Huskies succeed.

“We have a good way of keeping a good mindset going at every team,” Sheppard said. “For the same approach each game we don’t worry about the name, we just go after it, . “As long as we keep that mindset, [rather] than worrying about who we are playing, we will be okay.”